- The operator of the Gundremmingen nuclear power plant in Germany announced this week that the facility is infected with computer viruses, according to Reuters.
- But since the viruses were isolated from the Internet, they do not appear to have posed a threat to plant operations.
- The viruses were found in a computer system that installed new data visualization software in 2008 as part of a plan to help the plant move nuclear fuel rods, said German utility RWE, which runs the plant.
The viruses included "W32.Ramnit" and "Conficker.” According to Symantec, W32.Ramnit is designed to steal files from infected computers and targets Microsoft Windows software while Conficker is spread through networks and by copying itself onto removable data drives.
Computer worms like Conficker can threaten any enterprise, with their unique ability to penetrate an operating system, spread malicious code and infect a network, all without any help from humans.
In addition to the viruses, the Gundremmingen plant operator also found 18 removable data drives, mostly USBs, infected with malware. The drives were in office computers that were kept separate from the plant's main operating system.
Cyberattacks on infrastructure are a growing concern. In November 2014, NSA Director Navy Adm. Michael Rogers told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that a number of foreign governments had already managed to penetrate U.S. energy, water and fuel distribution systems.
Last year, malware caused a blackout in Ukraine, impacting hundreds of thousands of homes and forcing at least three regional utilities to shut down.